Sterling silver is most likely the most popular material used in fashion jewellery, and its strength and durability are the much sought-after qualities that can be attributed to that popularity – and it’s more affordable than buying gold! Fine or pure silver is actually too soft to create products that are functional and strong, so in order to get that strength that is needed, sterling silver pieces will contain 92.5% sliver and 7.5% other metals – usually copper.
Despite this, sterling silver needs to be properly cared for so that your favourite pieces can adorn your fingers, arms and neck for years to come. When the metal reacts with moisture it creates a layer of oxidation, making it look old and tarnished. There are certain silver pastes, polishes and liquid cleaners available that should do the trick, just make sure that when applying them, you use a soft, microfibre cloth. You’ll also usually have to rinse your designer jewellery pieces after using the cleaning product, so again, make sure you dry them carefully with another soft, clean cloth.
Alternative Methods Using Products from Home
If you prefer not to buy the products mentioned above, toothpaste actually works quite well! Just mix one part toothpaste to one part water, polish, rinse and dry!
But the most popular, and possibly most effective, manner is to use baking soda in the following manner:
1. Line a glass dish or bowl with tin foil that has been slightly crumpled – shiny side up.
2. Place your sterling silver jewellery on the tin foil.
3. Sprinkle a thin layer of baking soda over the jewellery.
4. Pour boiling water into the bowl – enough to fully submerge all the items.
5. Bubbling and a rotten-egg smell will let you know that it’s working – the smell is caused by the release of the sulphuric gases.
6. Move the pieces around a bit, and when you see them becoming bright silver again, take them out, rinse under tap water and wipe dry with a soft, absorbent cloth.
The chemicals from the baking soda that are activated by the boiling water dislodge the tarnish, and that tarnish then binds with the aluminium from the tin foil, leaving you with bright and shiny designer jewellery pieces that look brand new again.
Important Tip: Don’t use this method with jewellery that contains gemstones (or almost anything that is not sterling silver – you could cause irreversible damage in the process.
It’s always better to keep it from happening as best you can so that you don’t have to go through this cleaning process too often. In order to prevent this from happening too frequently, store you silverware in airtight bags so that it doesn’t come into contact with much moisture (if you can throw in some ant-tarnish tissue or paper your jewellery will be all the better for it); velvet bags are also recommended. It’s also wise to avoid storing your rings with other metals, as this also has the potential to cause damage.